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Diamondbacks Sweep Pirates

Seventh inning homers propel Arizona to 6-4 victory

Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Max Kranick, left, talks with catcher Jacob Stallings during the fourth inning of the team's baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Wednesday, July 21, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

By JACK THOMPSON

Associated Press

PHOENIX — Pavin Smith and Daulton Varsho have hit back to back in the lineup for a few seasons while coming up through Arizona’s system.

But they had never hit consecutive home runs — until Wednesday.

And they picked a good time to do it: in the seventh inning of a tied game. Smith hit his ninth of the season and Varsho followed with his second, and the Diamondbacks held on for their fourth straight victory, 6-4 over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“It finally happened,” Smith said. “We’ve been doing this for three, four years and always talked about it.”

Smith connected on a changeup from Duane Underwood Jr. (2-3) leading off the seventh to break a 4-4 tie, and Varsho followed with a blast to right against a fastball.

“They’re not missing the pitches they’re looking for,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said.

The Diamondbacks may have lost their hottest hitter, however. Lovullo said after the game that Josh Rojas has a dislocated left pinkie, suffered on a failed steal attempt in the eighth.

The finger was set back into place and Rojas was having tests after the game, Lovullo said. “We’re hoping for the best-case scenario and he’s day to day, but we’ll have to see.”

Rojas, who mostly plays second base but has seen time at shortstop and in the outfield, is batting .390 in his last 12 games for Arizona.

He was 2 for 4 with a run scored, a double, a walk and a stolen base.

Nick Ahmed had three of Arizona’s 12 hits against six Pirates pitchers.

The Diamondbacks won their 30th game of the season — against an MLB-worst 68 losses — and their fourth in a row to match their season-best winning streak. They won four straight from April 18-22, including three games at Cincinnati which was their only previous sweep of the season.

Brett de Geus (2-0) walked John Nogowski to force in the tying run in the seventh after the Pirates loaded the bases on three singles against Joe Mantiply. But de Geus retired Jacob Stallings on a double play to end the inning.

“We got out of a bases-loaded jam,” Lovullo said. “It was real nice to see that type of success.”

For the Pirates, a promising run that began with three consecutive wins against the NL East-leading Mets — capped by a big comeback on Stallings’ walk-off grand slam last Saturday — has turned sour.

After scoring six runs in the first against New York on Sunday, the Pirates ended up losing 7-6 and now have lost four straight, the last three to the team with baseball’s worst record. The Pirates now head to San Francisco to play the NL West-leading Giants.

“We’re getting hits, but we’re not capitalizing on the run-scoring opportunities. It’s frustrating,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said.

“We played well that whole Mets series. We’re going have to regroup on Thursday (an off day) because we’re getting ready to play one of the best teams in baseball.”

Varsho, playing center field after catching Tuesday night, also doubled to start a two-run fourth.

All-Star Bryan Reynolds had three hits for the Pirates.

Joakim Soria retired the side in order in the ninth for his sixth save for the Diamondbacks.

Madison Bumgarner went five innings for Arizona in his second start since coming off the injured list (left shoulder inflammation). He struck out one, walked none and threw 79 pitches before coming out for a pinch hitter. He allowed three runs, but just one earned.

“It was nice to see Bum have another good outing,” Lovullo said. “He could have gone one more, but we had a limit of 90 pitches.”

Max Kranick, pitching on his 24th birthday, started for Pittsburgh after being recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis earlier in the week. He lasted three-plus innings, giving up seven hits and four runs.

CLIPPARD COMEBACK

Before the game, the Diamondbacks reinstated RHP Tyler Clippard from the 60-day injured list. The veteran reliever had been out since spring training with a sprained right shoulder. He pitched the sixth inning, allowing a leadoff bunt single to Stallings and retiring the next three, ending it by striking out Jared Oliva.

To make room on the roster, Arizona optioned RHP J.B. Bukauskas to Triple-A Reno. The Diamondbacks also claimed RHP Ty Tice off waivers from Atlanta and optioned him to Reno, and designated LHP Alex Young for assignment. Young had been optioned to Reno on Monday.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Pirates: Director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said RHP Chase De Jong, who was placed on the injured list after starting Monday’s game, had an MRI on his left knee and the team is awaiting results. … LHP Stephen Brault (left lat strain) continues his rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis and will get another start there, Tomczyk said.

Diamondbacks: 3B Asdrubal Cabrera (strained right hamstring) played in an Arizona League game Tuesday. Lovullo said he will get “plenty of at-bats” in rehab before returning to the roster, just to make sure his leg is strong.

UP NEXT

Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (3-5, 3.41) starts in San Francisco on Friday.

Diamondbacks: Off Thursday. RHP Zac Gallen (1-4, 3.86) opens the series against the Cubs in Chicago on Friday.

METS 7, REDS 0

Marcus Stroman pitched one-hit ball for eight innings, Dominic Smith launched a grand slam and the New York Mets cruised to a win over the Cincinnati Reds.

Stroman (7-8) gave up a leadoff single to Aristides Aquino in the third inning and little else. He struck out seven and walked one while giving New York’s beleaguered bullpen precious rest going into Thursday’s day off. Jeurys Familia struck out three in a hitless ninth.

Luis Guillorme hit his first homer of the season and Jonathan Villar also connected for the NL East leaders. Mets manager Luis Rojas returned to the dugout after serving a two-game suspension for excessive arguing on Sunday.

Jeff Hoffman (3-5) came off the 10-day injured list to make his first start since May 26 and lasted four innings, allowing seven hits — including Smith’s slam — and five runs with three walks.

PADRES 3, BRAVES 2, 1ST GAME

ATLANTA (AP) — Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a two-run homer, starter Chris Paddack reversed his recent struggles and San Diego bat Atlanta in the first game of a doubleheader.

Tatis made it 3-0 in the fifth inning against reliever Shane Greene when his NL-leading 29th homer landed in the left-field seats. The All-Star shortstop has eight hits, seven runs scored and six RBIs in his last five games.

Paddack (6-6), who had a 10.31 ERA in his last five appearances, worked five scoreless innings, allowing three hits with no walks and one strikeout. All-Star closer Mark Melancon wrapped it up for the Padres in the seventh, earning his major league-leading 28th save in 32 chances.

Kyle Muller (1-3) allowed two hits and walked three in four innings for the Braves, working out of jams in the first and third.

Atlanta’s Bryse Wilson (2-3) was scheduled to face San Diego’s Reiss Knehr (0-0) in the second game. Both were both called up from Triple-A to serve as the 27th man for their teams.

RAYS 5, ORIOLES 4

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Austin Meadows hit a two-out, two-run single in the ninth inning and Tampa Bay rallied past Baltimore.

Randy Arozarena hit two home runs and also had a key single as the Rays won for the 10th time in 13 games. He stopped a 21-game home run drought in Tuesday night’s 9-3 win over Baltimore.

Tampa Bay trailed when Francisco Mejia led off the ninth with a single against Tanner Scott (3-4) and pinch-hitter Mike Zunino drew a one-out walk. Arozarena then hit a flare to right field, with first baseman Ryan Mountcastle and second baseman Pat Valaika colliding in pursuit, for a single that loaded the bases. After Vidal Brujan struck out, Meadows lined an 0-2 pitch to center.

Collin McHugh (3-1) worked two scoreless innings for the win.

Mountcastle and and Valaika each hit solo homers for Baltimore, which placed scheduled starting pitching Keegan Akin and outfielder Anthony Santander on the COVID-19 injured list before the game.

ROYALS 6, BREWERS 3

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Nicky Lopez hit a bases-loaded, tiebreaking double, Brad Keller earned his first win in over six weeks and Kansas City completed a season sweep of Milwaukee.

On an afternoon when the Brewers made a pair of errors that caused Kansas City’s first five runs to be unearned, two of the loudest ovations at the stadium came when the scoreboard showed video clips of Milwaukee Bucks players asking fans to get loud. The Bucks won their first NBA championship since 1971 on Tuesday night, beating the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 in the downtown arena about three miles away.

Jorge Soler added a towering homer in the eighth inning as the Royals continued their improbable season-long mastery of the Brewers. Keller (7-9) struck out six and allowed three runs and two walks in 6 2/3 innings to pick up a win for the first time since June 4. Scott Barlow retired the side in order in the ninth for his fifth save.

Kansas City scored three runs off Brent Suter (9-5) in the sixth to take the lead for good.

ROCKIES 6, MARINERS 3

DENVER (AP) — Austin Gomber pitched effectively for six innings after spending a month on the injured list, Dom Nunez hit a bases-loaded double in a five-run first and Colorado beat Seattle.

Gomber (7-5) allowed three runs on three hits – solo homers by Kyle Seager, Luis Torrens and Mitch Haniger — to win his fourth straight decision. Gomber was reinstated earlier in the day after being out since June 20 because of tightness in his left forearm.

Daniel Bard pitched a hitless ninth, fanning Torrens for the final out, for his 15th save in 20 opportunities.

The Mariners chose longtime reliever Keynan Middleton (0-1) as their opener. But the Rockies jumped on him in his first career start.

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